Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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ARCTIC: Glacier Researchers Recognized for Exemplary Volunteer Effort
Alaska Region, December 7, 2004
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The year 2004 marked the second year of a five-year study and a renewed effort to extend 46 years of glaciological observations on the McCall Glacier of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Beginning in 1950, before the Refuge existed, researchers began collecting careful glaciological measurements that ultimately reflect the earth's climatic condition. The project has documented a significant negative trend in the glacier's mass balance (shrinking) and a mean air temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius. The long-term study is widely recognized as being unique in the Arctic and has broad international support.

During the course of the Institute's glacial research last summer, the group voluntarily located, consolidated, and removed via helicopter sling-load approximately four tons of old fuel drums, batteries, a generator, and other debris left on the McCall Glacier by researchers over the course of the past 50 years. Because of the glacier's surface and its unstable moraine, only a professionally-led team could have removed this refuse from the Refuge's designated wilderness.

On December 7, to recognize this outstanding volunteer effort, the Arctic Refuge hosted Professor Matt Nolan of the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute and five of his associates at an appreciation luncheon. Nolan presented a video-powerpoint program on the history of glacial research on the Refuge over the past half-century, the cleanup effort, and the past several summers? findings related to the glacier's shrinkage in response to climate change. After the program, Refuge Manager Voss spoke about this unusual Refuge partnership and about opportunities for continued cooperation. Appreciation was expressed for the group's sensitivity to the Refuge's wilderness values, which was quite evident in their approach to the area, through their cleanup work and as expressed in their report on the project. Voss presented each of the six project participants with a certificate of appreciation signed by the Region 7 Chief of Refuges and a book about Arctic Refuge. Nolan's easily readable account of the effort is available at: http://www.uaf.edu/water/faculty/nolan/personal/McCall_Aug04/mccall_aug04.htm

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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